With 70% to 80% of water use being non-potable, it makes no sense to spend money on energy to clean up water and to pump water out and back from centralized municipalities, proponents of rainwater harvesting say.
Anywhere from 40% to 60% of the cost of water is from the energy used to move the water from one place to another, says Jim Harrington of Georgia-based Rainwater Collection Solutions. “We’re literally […] running out of water that’s clean and usable,” he says. “You cannot have energy without a lot of water, and you cannot have water without a lot of energy. We talk about energy and read about energy all the time, but we don’t talk about the fact that probably 60% of the water that we use in the United States is used to create energy, for cooling towers and hydroelectric power. You’re talking about billions of gallons a day.”
Rainwater harvesting is the practice of collecting water from roofs and parking areas and reusing it, keeping it onsite, which eliminates a huge portion of stormwater runoff, according to David Crawford, president of the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA). In addition to saving on energy, Crawford says, companies might want to consider rainwater catchment because the EPA is pushing for it, Environmental Leader wrote last week.
Manufacturing facilities are often water utilities’ largest customer. Last fall, Pepsi announced it was reaching its water targets through “a comprehensive approach to water stewardship at the plant level…” This approach includes rainwater harvesting and evaporation technologies.
Rainwater catchment is also a practice that can help property owners achieve LEED status for their buildings. The Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport in Alabama recently received LEED Gold for its terminal, with one of the LEED features in the design being rainwater harvesting that reduces water consumption and discharge into the storm water drainage system, for example (via AL.com).